Recapping ASECS in Albuquerque

Posted in conferences (summary) by Editor on March 30, 2010

By Amber Ludwig

If you were at this year’s ASECS Annual Meeting, you probably tried Albuquerque’s favorite ingredient: the green chile. From breakfast burritos to macaroni and cheese, it goes on anything and everything in Albuquerque, NM, adding a flavor of the Southwest to ordinary dishes. A bit of southwestern spice was evident throughout this year’s ASECS Annual Meeting, too. The airport volunteers at the information desk welcomed our ranks with southern hospitality and made sure everyone arrived at their respective hotels. The Hotel Albuquerque provided a southwestern backdrop with tile floors, a large fireplace, and brightly colored walls and furniture. The close proximity to Albuquerque’s Old Town made the hotel a great location for after-conference dinners complete with—what else?—green chiles.

The conference began bright and early on Thursday with offerings that frustrated some of the art historians. Several panels on art were scheduled for the opening session. “Theories of Visual Experience and Artists’ Writings about Art in the 18th Century,” “Constructing a Public Face: Image Creation in the Long 18th Century,” “Gender and Homosociality in the Long 18th Century,” “The 18th Century in Motion,” and “Portraits and Money” all took place at the same time and featured art historical papers. Despite this overlap, the sessions were well-attended, and animated audience members contributed to lively discussions. The day continued with panels on Venice, artists’ lives and afterlives, inspiration, and pastiche. Thursday ended with a rousing member reception that had conference attendees spilling outside, onto the hotel’s warm plaza to enjoy the beautiful weather and setting sun.

Friday continued with strong sessions. “Cultures of Flowers” — despite being held in one of the hotel’s suites rather than a conference room — provided a fascinating look into the various ways flowers conveyed meaning and operated within both intellectual and popular culture of the eighteenth century. “Visualizing Interiority in the 18th Century,” “Enthusiastic Performances: Women and Spirituality in the 18th Century,” “Satire et censure de l’Ancien Régime au Consulat,” and “HECAA New Scholars Session” gave members much to talk about at the HECAA luncheon. The “New Scholars Session,” in particular, demonstrated the variety of approaches and methodologies being employed by younger HECAA members. From theories of looking to econometrics (no, that isn’t a typo!), these presenters showed that the eighteenth century continues to attract innovative researchers. Friday ended with a decorative arts session that combined a traditional presentation of papers with a roundtable discussion, a popular format that encouraged audience participation.

The final day of the conference began with an unexpected snowfall, but the high temperatures melted any evidence well before lunch. The House of Habsburg was well-represented on Saturday with a two-part session addressing both art history and music history. Another multi-disciplinary panel, “Friendship between Men and Women,” tackled this often-ignored type of professional and personal relationship. The panel was a great way to wind down the conference, since it signaled various issues to be explored in the future. As the weekend came to an end, participants seemed a bit tired, but this writer is sure that a dinner—complete with green chiles—fortified everyone, preparing the scholars to tackle airport security for the flights home.

Amber Ludwig is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at Boston University. Her dissertation analyzes the creation and reception of portraits of Emma Hamilton and the ways in which the art of portraiture helped to fashion her public identity. Amber received one of HECAA’s Mary Vidal Memorial Fund Awards for travel to this year’s ASECS meeting.

Details on these panels, including a list of presenters and individual paper topics, can be found here»

Wanted: Papers on Sport

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on March 30, 2010

The Sporting Eighteenth Century
Special Issue of The Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies

Proposals due by 15 May 2010

2012 will witness the third London Olympics. This event seems an appropriate moment to consider the totality of cultural, social, political and economic relations that sport helps organize and sometimes challenge. The enlightenment period sees new ways of debating the significance of sport internationally. Sport is one of the most inter-disciplinary of topics, engaging the attention of  poets, painters, social scientists and historians. Proposals are sought for contributions to a special edition of The Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies (formerly known as the British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies) to appear in 2012 on the subject of sport in the Eighteenth-Century. (Those unfamiliar with the Journal should note that it is concerned with a long eighteenth century from 1650-1820.) The editors  (Dr Conrad Brunström, Department of English, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland; Dr. Tanya Cassidy, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario; and Dr. Martha K. Zebrowski, Department of Political Science, Columbia University) of this edition represent three different disciplines and three different national traditions and it is hoped that this interdisciplinary and cultural diversity will be reflected in the range of submissions. Topics may include but are not limited to the following: (more…)

Trade Cards, as Fleeting and Fragile as Butterfly Wings

Posted in exhibitions, resources by Editor on March 29, 2010

The trade card collection from Waddeston Manor is a fascinating collection of advertising images. Searchable, high-resolution images accompanied by notes are available here. The following description comes from The Warwick Eighteenth-Century Center.

Card of Didier Aubert, Printseller & Engraver

Advertising has long been known to be both the reflection of and means to create desire for commodities. The study of historical advertising is, therefore, a key means to understand consumers and consumer markets in early modern society. Despite an extensive literature on the proliferation of new goods and their consumers between 1760 and 1800, there has been little research on the part played by advertising in creating consumer markets. Furthermore, research has tended to focus on texts and the English-speaking world.

Waddesdon Manor has a unique collection of French and German trade cards dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Trade cards, prints with a combination of image and text, provided information about the location, goods and services of a given business. A thorough study of these objects can inform us about early modern attitudes to the burgeoning world of goods and the inter-relationship between commercial and fine art.

Card of Nicolas de Fer, Geographer and Map-seller, A La Sphere Royale, 1705

‘Selling Consumption,’ is a three-year Leverhulme funded project that seeks to catalogue and analyse these cards using approaches from social history, material culture, art history and the history of collections to provide a resource based on this rich, but under-studied, form of commercial ephemera. The catalogue will be published in the form of an on-line database in Spring 2009, providing scholars with a vital resource to continue the study and understanding of this material. The database has been designed to allow scholars to search by trade or product as well as by decorative motif or iconographic subject. A further field entitled ‘Research Concepts’ aims to facilitate searching the database through the lens of contemporary research interests.

This project has led on to the organisation of an exhibition, to be held at Waddesdon Manor from March to October 2008. The exhibition ‘Selling Shopping in Paris 1680-1820’ will introduce visitors to the unique collection of French trade cards and allow them to learn what and how the cards tell us about the production of advertising, the imagery of consumption, the types of products on sale, the location of trades, as well as what it was like to go shopping in Paris of the long eighteenth century. The items on display: trade cards, textiles, drawings, books, and other objet d’art reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the project.

Marvels in the Marketplace: the Germanic trade cards at Waddesdon Manor

In the course of digitising, cataloguing and investigating the rare collection of trade cards at Waddesdon Manor, the uniqueness of a particular part of the collection has come to light. The last of the four volumes does not contain French prints, nor is it arranged in the broad chronology used to organise the rest of the material. A group of cards relating to hotels and inns, as well as a significant number representing dealers in paintings, antiquities and silverware, provides evidence of links between French mercantile travel and the formation of the collection. Another group of cards illustrating human prodigies and fair-ground entertainers indicates that this ‘French’ view of Germanic cultural activity was figured through the spectacle of abnormal bodies. Currently, it is believed that the French collections of ephemera were driven by nostalgia for the Paris of the Ancien Regime. These cards indicate that other interests helped to shape the collection. A three-month British Academy grant will allow the cataloguing of this volume using the methodologies developed in the ‘Selling Consumption’ project, as well as allowing discreet research to be carried out on these cards . . . .

For additional information, including a bibliography, click here»

Paper Proposals for Next Year’s CAA Due by May 3rd

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on March 28, 2010

The 2011 College Art Association conference takes place in New York, February 9-12. The HECAA session will be chaired by Kristel Smentek and Meredith Martin. Also included here are various sessions related to the eighteenth century. The full Call for Participation is available at the CAA site. Proposals are due by 3 May 2010.

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The Global Eighteenth Century (Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture)

Kristel Smentek, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Meredith Martin, Wellesley College. Mail to: Kristel Smentek, Dept. of Architecture, MIT, 77 Massachusetts Ave., 10-303c, Cambridge, MA 02139; or email smentek@mit.edu and mmartin@wellesley.edu

Contemporary debates on globalization have encouraged us  to examine eighteenth-century art and design from an intercultural perspective. We invite papers that address the circulation of peoples and things—between India, Africa, Europe, Asia, and beyond—and explore the mutually transformative potential of such encounters. Topics to be addressed might include visual appropriation and translation, markets, collecting and display, and the political and diplomatic uses of objects. We especially encourage methodologically innovative approaches to analyzing these artistic exchanges and their historical specificity.

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Imitation, Copy, Reproduction, Replication, Repetition, and Appropriation

Malcolm Baker, University of California, Riverside, Dept. of the History of Art, 235 Arts Bldg., Riverside, CA 92521, mcbaker@ucr.edu; and Paul Duro, University of Rochester, Dept. of Art and Art History, 425 Morey Hall, Rochester, NY 14627, paul.duro@rochester.edu

Despite a growing body of recent work, imitation is still commonly confused with copying, to the detriment of the many forms of repetition that are thereby negatively contrasted with notions of originality and authenticity. Yet within some categories of artistic production—including that of the Renaissance bronze statuette—there is no “original.” We seek papers on any aspect of imitation, copying, reproduction, replication, repetition, and appropriation, whether drawn from art theory, practice, criticism, or historiography. These might include case studies that have implications for our wider understanding of these terms or discussions of key texts in which such terms have been formulated. Our goal is to disconnect the association between imitation and copying and to question the value of originality as the sole means to understand the artwork.

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New Approaches to the Study of Fashion and Costume in Western Art, 1650–1900

Helen Burnham, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Justine DeYoung. Mail to: Helen Burnham, Dept. of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115; or email: HBurnham@mfa.org and justine.deyoung@gmail.com

This panel seeks to foster discussion of the significance of dress to the making of art and its reception from the late seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth century, while encouraging panelists to reflect on questions raised by recent scholarship (e.g., gender and identity, the politics of dress, and the economics of fashion). Papers that focus on particular moments or themes in the history of Western art and dress are welcome and might include, for example, studies in portraiture or patronage; exotic or historic costume in painting or sculpture; symbolic and theatrical dress in art; certain media or techniques and their perception in dress-oriented terms; or fashion and modernity. Preference will be given to those proposals that take into account the discourse (e.g., aesthetic debates, criticism, instructions to artists) surrounding dress or fashion in art.

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From Physiognomy to Portraiture

Deborah Dorotinsky, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, UNAM, Mexico City; deborah.dorotinsky@gmail.com

This session will explore the relationship between scientific knowledge production about population groups in the Americas (indigenous, blacks, and other minorities) and their documentation through drawings, prints, paintings, plaster casts, sculpture, and photographs between the sixteenth and the twenty-first century. Papers should address images that concentrate on body form, and particularly on portraiture as a means of addressing diversity, alleged abnormality, and other concepts in the range of criminal anthropological theory, racialist theories, eugenics, and biotypology. How does the canon set forth by academic portraiture foster the inquiry into the human head as indexical of moral and racial traits? How did local art academies and scientific institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean respond to the need for these images? How did they foster nationalist discourses and ideology? How do gender issues bare on the syntax and style of these images? How do present day visual culture and art differentiate from these discourses on race to deal with diversity?

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Architecture and Space in the Early Modern Ibero-American World

Jesús Escobar, Northwestern University; and Michael Schreffler, Virginia Commonwealth University/CASVA. Mail to: Michael Schreffler, CASVA, National Gallery of Art, 2000B S. Club Dr., Landover, MD 20785

From the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, Spain, Portugal, and their American dominions were sites of great innovation in architecture and urbanism. Recent scholarship in these fields has erased modern geographical borders and embraced the cosmopolitanism of the Ibero-American world. Some of these studies have focused on models of stylistic hybridity, but less attention has been paid to theoretical considerations of space as a reflection of political will and might. This session seeks to build upon the recent literature by exploring the nexus of architecture, space, and politics, the latter understood here to encompass aspects of political theory as well as the practices of imperial administration in the early modern Ibero-American world. We especially encourage papers that situate studies of key monuments, sites, or cities in their socio-political and intellectual contexts whether through case studies or considerations of methodology and historiography.

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Luxury and Consumption in Early Modern Northern European Art

Wayne Franits, Syracuse University, Dept. of Art and Music Histories, Ste. 308 Bowne Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244-1200; wefranit@syr.edu

In recent years, a large number of historical studies, including books by Simon Schama, Lynda Levy Peck, Woodruff Smith, and Jan de Vries, have explored evolving concepts of luxury and consumption in Northern Europe during the early-modern era. Yet, the ramifications of this scholarship for early modern Northern European art have not been sufficiently investigated. This is regrettable since art works of the period frequently feature luxurious objects and often enjoyed the status of luxury commodities themselves, owing to the high prices they commanded. This session solicits proposals for papers concerning ever-changing concepts of luxury and consumption in relation to art, such as the depiction of material culture, the function of “old” and “new” perceptions of luxury in the contemporary reception of art works, the commodity status of art works; the rituals wherein they were potentially deployed, and the social traits and status of those who “consumed” them.

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Recurating: New Practices in Exhibition Making

Betti-Sue Hertz, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103

Approaches to organizing exhibitions shifted in the 1960s as postminimal, conceptual, performative, and political art practices challenged traditions in the relationship between the art object and the viewer. In the past twenty years, curatorial practice has become a highly self-conscious activity, fueled by a deepening archive of precedents providing a springboard for new inventive possibilities. Taking this history into consideration, this session will focus on a new vision for curatorship, where the preexisting exhibition becomes a destabilized object or entity for curatorial consideration. What value can new presentations add to an exhibition conceived and constructed by an originating curator in an earlier historical moment? What new contemporary interpretive meanings become available when the original presentation of an exhibition is adapted, rearranged, changed, or expanded to correspond with new formulations of the object/audience relationship? How does recycling, rearranging, repackaging, and redirecting, as methodologies for recurating fully realized exhibitions, reflect current innovative practices in art and design?

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Dissemination: Prints, Publishing, and the Early Modern Arts in Europe

Sheila McTighe, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, Somerset House, the Strand, London WC2R 0RN, UK; sheila.mctighe@courtauld.ac.uk

The publication of artists’ biographies across the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries changed forever the relation between artists and their posterity and between innovation and the emulation of past art, as well as relations between individual works of art and the collected oeuvre of an artist. As with printed texts, the publishing of printed images changed the trajectory of artistic careers and shaped new, international publics for the arts. This session invites studies of any aspect of the world of printed texts and printed images in the early modern period. Papers that address the concept of print culture are particularly welcome, as are studies that cut across the boundaries that divide the study of prints from the study of cultural history and visual culture as a whole.

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Radical Neo: The Past in the Present in British Art  and Design (Historians of British Art)

Jason Rosenfeld, Marymount Manhattan College, New York; and Tim Barringer, Yale University. Mail to: Jason Rosenfeld, Dept. of Art History, Marymount Manhattan College, 221 E. 71st St., New York, NY 10021; or email: jrosenfeld@mmm.edu

British art has been at its most compelling when mobilizing the past to critique or reformulate current practices. From eighteenth-century Neo-Classicism through the Gothic revival, Pre-Raphaelites, Arts and Crafts Movement, Primitivism, and Neo-Romanticism, the resurgence of interest in a cultural moment in the past, and its related visual style, formed the basis for radical new creativity. We invite papers on any period that discuss the revival of art, architecture, or theory from an earlier age. In addition to fine arts and architecture, the fields of fashion, graphic and product design, food, and popular entertainment fall within our remit.

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Seeing through the Medium (Historians of British Art, shorter session)

Imogen Hart, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Yale Center for British Art; and Catherine Roach, Postdoctoral Associate, Department of the History of Art, Cornell University; imogen.hart@yale.edu and cr342@cornell.edu

A central but challenging question for art history is the relationship between objects and their audiences. This issue, like most of the questions faced by the discipline, is usually addressed in terms of individual media. Yet how might the study of the historical interpretation of objects complicate current academic divisions by media? Recent scholarship testifies to the breadth of British artistic production, yet histories that focus on different media do not always speak to one another, with the result that an integrated picture of the arts of a period often proves elusive. While a specialist understanding of specific media may be essential to a thorough study of the process and experience of making, a broader, more inclusive approach may be more appropriate to a study of the ways in which contemporaries engaged with objects. Recent scholarly interventions such as the Henry Moore Institute and J. Paul Getty Museum’s exhibition and catalogue Taking Shape: Finding Sculpture in the Decorative Arts and Caroline Arscott’s book William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones: Interlacings offer models of how art historians might engage in cross-media analysis. This panel seeks papers focusing on British art of any period, including colonial contexts, that address the question of reception and cut across current scholarly divisions, especially between the “fine” and “decorative” arts.

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Rococo, Late-Rococo, Post-Rococo, New Rococo: Art, Theory, and Historiography

Katie Scott, The Courtauld Institute of Art; and Melissa Hyde, University of Florida; Email: mlhyde@ymail.com

This session invites contributions on the continuing debate about the periodicity of the Rococo, style moderne of the early decades of Louis XV’s reign. Was Rococo always already late—the end of Gothic or the Baroque—or, on the contrary, radically modern? Our working hypothesis is that time or periodicity, rather than form, constitutes the problem of the Rococo. We hope to prompt inquiry into the wide range of meanings (cultural, political, gendered, etc.) that attach to a visual language that lacks theoretical and historical anchorage and which undergoes conscious revival in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, usually as pastiche. Papers might consider issues of contrivance, reproduction, simulation, dissemination, the fake, and the souvenir, or take up questions  of when and under what conditions the Rococo is revived. In addition to papers on designed objects and representations, we welcome reflections on the critical fortunes and historiography of the Rococo.

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Collectors, Dealers, and Designers in Modern Asia: Historiographical Categories Revisited

Mercedes Volait, Institut national d’histoire de l’art, InVisu, 2, rue Vivienne, Paris 75002, France; mercedes.volait@inha.fr

This session focuses on connoisseurs who played a pivotal role in the development of cross-cultural exchanges between Asia and the West from the eighteenth century on. At the edges of Western imperial territories and institutions, local collectors, dealers, designers, and patrons embodied the complexities of a process that involved as much mixing and negotiating as separation, division, or resistance. Border-crossings of all sorts—geographical, sociocultural, and religious—intensified as the century progressed, not only transforming Asia, but also European formulations of identity and knowledge. In both places, new sets of relations to art and architecture, as well as interactions between art, heritage and design developed. By shedding light on the ambivalent condition of colonial “in-between-ness” and processes of self-invention in imperial contexts, the panel seeks to address the problematic place assigned to the history of modern “Islamic art and architecture” in conventional art history.

The Circle of Tiepolo

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 27, 2010

From the cultura italia site:

Bortoloni, Piazzetta, Tiepolo: il ‘700 Veneto
Pinacoteca di Palazzo Roverella, Rovigo, 30 January — 13 June 2010

Mattia Bortoloni "Giunone chiede a Eolo di liberare i venti"

Finally, a major exhibit to ‘reveal’ Mattia Bortoloni, juxtaposing Piazzetta, Tiepolo, Balestra, Ricci and other greats from 18th-century Veneto. Some only know him for a Guinness-type work: the widest single fresco of all times and places – 5,500 square meters of delicate painting covering the entire, enormous elliptical dome, the largest in the world, of the Vicoforte Sanctuary, in Piedmont. A colossal work, more or less the dimension of an entire football field, considered the masterpiece of the Piedmontese Baroque period, frescoed in celebration of the Blessed Virgin, while at the same time, glorifying the House of Savoy.

Mattia Bortoloni (Canda di Rovigo, 1696 – Bergamo, 1750), famous, and quite sought-after during his lifetime, then faded into oblivion, considered ‘merely’ one of the best of Giovan Battista Tiepolo’s assistants, to the point that in not a few of the great master’s most celebrated pieces, it is to this day difficult to distinguish which brushstrokes to credit to which artist.

Over the last twenty years, more and more detailed studies have brought about a rediscovery of the breadth of Bortoloni’s own talent. Today it is possible to say, without qualifications, that he was an extraordinary and rather original artist, “suffocated” during his lifetime and by his notoriety as an assistant to the titans of 18th-century artists from the Veneto region, from the Veronese Balestra (who was his teacher) to Tiepolo himself. This major exhibit, entitled Bortoloni, Piazzetta and Tiepolo: 18th-Century Veneto will offer a selection of Bortoloni’s masterpieces juxtaposed with around thirty extraordinary works by Pellegrini, Piazzetta, Ricci and Tiepolo, the ‘titans’ of 18th-century Veneto.

Giambattista Pittoni "Diana e le ninfe"

Among the masterpieces on display, some early works by Tiepolo are worth special mention, including the Glory of St. Dominic and the Temptations of St. Anthony, next to essays into mythological subjects such as Diana and Actaeon and The Judgement of Midas, made available courtesy of the Galleries of the Academy of Venice. Of Piazzetta to be displayed is a rather moving altar piece depicting The Ecstasy of St. Francis, a work on loan from the Civic Museum of Vicenza, next to an early attempt by Sebastiano Ricci depicting Hercules at the Crossroads, on loan from the historic Palazzo Fulcis in Belluno. By Giambattista Pittoni are two works placed next to each other, the first inspired by the tales by Torquato Tasso depicting Olindo and Sofronia and, also of 17th-century layout, the second, Diana and the Nymphs, which shows an already rocailles flavour.

Giambattista Tiepolo "Digntario della Serenissima"

By Bortoloni’s teacher, Antonio Balestra, will be exhibit a never-before-seen Nativity and two extraordinary paintings, on loan from the Benedictine monastery of St. Paul of Argon, following a lengthy restoration project. The exhibit will be further enhanced by a valuable sketch section featuring works by the greatest fresco artists of the 18th century: besides Tiepolo (Giambattista and Giandomenico), Piazzetta and Bortoloni himself, as well as Diziani, Crosato Fontebasso Guarana, who were the great followers of this art form in later years. For the first time, completing this snapshot of the group is one of the key players, unduly forgotten for many years: Mattia Bortoloni, around whom this major exhibit pivots.

Bortoloni was a revered artist, so much so that at just twenty years of age he earned a much sought-after commission – that of frescoing the interior of Villa Cornaro in Piombino Dese, one of Palladio’s masterpieces. An undertaking in which he, albeit extremely tender in years, wisely anticipated the rococo style, which his friend in later years,
Giovanbattista Tiepolo, would then articulate with aplomb.

Light and shadow accompanied his extensive career in which, together with others but often alone, saw his busy with a kind of tunnel-vision (even for those days) with major works in Venice, and throughout the Regions of Veneto, Lombardy and Piedmont. Among his masterpieces are the series of frescoes at the Cathedral of Monza, for the Sanctuary of the Consolata (“The Consoled”), and for Palazzo Barono in Turin, for Palazzo Clerici and Palazzo Dugnani in Milan, Villa Vendramin Calergi in Fiesso Umbertino, Villa Albrizzi in Preganziol, Villa Raimondi in Birago di Lentate and Visconti-Citterio in Brignano d’Adda, the Venetian Churches of Saints John and Paul, and of St. Nicholas in the Tolentini, Ca’ Sceriman and Ca’ Rezzonico, also in Venice, through to his unquestionable masterpiece, the formidable series for the Vicoforte Sanctuary, more than five-thousand square meters of the finest fresco for the world’s largest elliptical dome.

In addition to his work as a fresco painter, Bortoloni was also a wonderful historical-painting artist, works in which storytelling ability goes hand in hand with original interpretive skill. For obvious reasons, this important production was the first to be delved into at the highly anticipated exhibit at Palazzo Roverella. These are works often being studied for the first time, with credits and attributions assigned for the first time as well, pieces never before shown to the public (and others that are ordinarily quite difficult to access), works that restore Bortoloni to a well-deserved prominence, which he enjoyed during his life, before being eclipsed by the magnificence of Tiepolo’s art work.

Catalogue available from Artbooks.com

In this panels, Bortoloni proves himself an inspired and original painter. These are compositions that are laid out in an anti-academic way, ironic and sometimes irreverent, which unquestionably ran against the grain with respect to the era’s other sacred painting. The piece with St. Thomas of Villanova of the Concordi Academy represents, in this light, one of Bortoloni’s highest accomplishments. Bortoloni, indeed, marked the passage from the late 17th century tradition, well ahead of his time even with respect to the great Tiepolo and – as demonstrated by the two historical paintings with the Adoration of the Magi and of the Shepherds of Fratta Polesine – much in line with Pittoni and Ricci’s innovations.

Exhibition Catalogue: Alessia Vedova and Fabrizio Malachin, eds., Bortoloni Piazzetta Tiepolo: il ‘700 veneto (Milan: Silvana, 2010), 255 pages, ISBN: 978883661503, €30 / $59.

Recent Reviews: ‘The Intimate Portrait’ and ‘Fuseli’s Milton Gallery’

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, reviews by Editor on March 26, 2010

Reviews from the current issue of The Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 33 (March 2010),

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The Intimate Portrait: Drawings, Miniatures and Pastels from Ramsay to Lawrence, curated by Kim Sloan and Stephen Lloyd, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 25 October 2008 — 1 February 2009; British Museum, 5 March — 31 May 2009.

Reviewed by Kate Retford, Birkbeck College, University of London.

This exhibition brought together nearly 200 portrait drawings, pastels and miniatures from the rich collections of the British Museum and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, billed as “more intimate types of Georgian and Regency portraiture.” These were not regularly exhibited works. Miniatures are hard to display, particularly in a way that will convey full experience of their qualities and functions. Drawings can only ever be shown for limited periods of time, owing to the threat of fading. The show included some exceptional images, not least Thomas Lawrence’s 1789 drawing of Mary Hamilton, enhanced with red and black chalk, used for the publicity materials. It was the export licence deferral and subsequent acquisition of this beautiful portrait by the British Museum which prompted the show. . . .

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Luisa Calè, Fuseli’s Milton Gallery: ‘Turning Readers into Spectators’ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 273 pages, ISBN: 0199267383, $125.

Reviewed by Martin Myrone, Tate Britain.

The Swiss-born history painter Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) was a central figure in London’s cultural scene from the 1770s through to his death, both acclaimed and reviled for his extravagant paintings of supernatural, heroic and uncanny scenes. Approaching Fuseli from the perspective of a literary scholar armed with the lessons of narrative theory and reception studies, Luisa Calè’s new study makes a highly significant contribution to the literature on this artist, and seeks to establish his work in the context of a commercial culture of art that fostered complex dependencies and exchanges between the visual and the textual, the social and the aesthetic. The book focuses on Fuseli’s Milton Gallery – a scheme of ambitious paintings based on subjects drawn from the poet’s writings and life that preoccupied the artist through the 1790s – which opened, to almost complete public indifference, in 1799 and 1800. Calè offers an impressively thoughtful reconsideration of this major artistic project which has wide implications for our understanding of narrative painting and the commerce of art at the end of the eighteenth century. . . .

Conference on Classics in the Eighteenth Century

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on March 26, 2010

Classics and the Classical in the Eighteenth Century
King’s College
, The Strand, London, 
15-16 July 2010

Conference Presentations:

  • Michael Silk (King’s College London) “Classical, Neo-classical, and Romantic:
 The Point of No Return”
  • Paul Davis (University College London), “Volcanic Classicism”
  • Jonathan Sacks (Concordia, Canada), “The Time of Decline

  • Joshua Billings (Oxford), “Sophocles and the German Spirit”
  • Katherine Harloe (Reading), “Winckelmann’s Early Reception and the Invention
 of Altertumswissenschaft
  • Matthew Bell (KCL), “Goethe and the Classics”
  • Sebastian Matzner (KCL), “The Collapse of a Classical Tradition? An 
Archaeological Investigation into ‘The End of Rhetoric’ around 1800: 
Gottsched, Kant, Schlegel”
  • Crystal  Bennes (KCL), “Lucan and Problems of Genre in 18th-Century France”
  • Michael Hardy (KCL) and Katherine East (Royal Holloway), “Ciceronian Rhetoric
 in Georgian England”
  • Matthew Hiscock (UCL), “Classics for the Radical Fringe: Republicans and 
Dissenters at the end of the 18th Century”
  • Suzanne Aspden (Oxford), “Making Musical Classics in 18th-Century London”
  • Ismene Lada-Richards (KCL), “Thinking with Ancient Pantomime in 18th-Century 
England and France”

To register, please contact William Fitzgerald 

Spring Cleaning Your CV

Posted in graduate students, opinion pages, resources by Editor on March 25, 2010

The keyboard of a writing ball, seen from above. Rasmus Malling-Hansen invented this writing machine in 1865 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

From the Editor

As we move into spring and past the high season for job interviews and fellowship deadlines, it may seem like a strange time to revise your CV. On the other hand, now might just be an ideal moment. Without the pressure of looming due dates, you might be able to approach the task with a clearer head and fresh energy. It might even feel constructive as opposed to being one more academic chore, another box to check in the process of submitting applications. Updating a CV can provide a useful means of assessing what you’ve accomplished in the recent past — and what sorts of holes you need to work to fill for the future. Again, there’s a tendency to push it off until some pressing deadline, but deadlines come with enough pressure without having to scramble to fix the CV (and those moments are rarely well-suited for taking stock of one’s scholarly and professional goals and progress).

A recent posting at The Art History Newsletter notes the return of the CV Doctor at The Chronicle of Higher Education. The article (written by Julie Miller Vick and Jennifer Furlong, authors of The Academic Job Search Handbook) includes ‘before’ and ‘after’ examples, including one from art historian, ‘Lucy Scholar’. The College Art Association includes models at its Standards and Guidelines pages for Art Historians (2003) and Museum Professionals (2000). And, notwithstanding the array of bad sites, there are plenty of useful resources across the web for improving your formatting.

Remarkably — though perhaps not surprisingly — prescriptions from academic bastions such The Chronicle and CAA offer minimal help in terms of updating the visual design for a CV. Here’s CAA’s recommendation:

Avoid making the cv complicated. Dramatic layouts and attempts to pad your cv will probably work against you. A beautifully constructed cv will not get you the job if your scholarship is weak.

I agree, but none of this is especially useful in terms of actually formatting a document, and the last sentence seems to harbor a funny suspicion that ultimately appearances are deceptive and thus not to be trusted. In any case, even if “your scholarship is weak” you’re surely under no obligation to make your CV look bad, too. (In an interesting way, this returns us to the bias against fashion in academic circles).

To be clear: an academic CV should conform to traditional visual standards. Yet, no one expects you to use a typewriter, and presumably doing so would be counted against you. The analogy, in fact, lies at the center of the argument made in Robin Williams’s wonderful book, The PC Is Not a Typewriter. Don’t let the publication date of 1995 put you off; it’s full of terrific advice that’s still all too timely. You’ll learn for instance, why it makes sense to use two spaces between sentences on a typewriter but is absurd to do so on a computer keyboard (the last time I surveyed my students on this point, the majority had still been instructed to keyboard with two spaces after each period). I’ve also found the advice at LifeClever Give Your Resume a Face Lift to be immensely useful, and the end result is hardly “dramatic” — just a much better formatted CV. Other resources or ideas? Feel free to comment. –C.H.

The Last Guillotine

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 24, 2010

Crime et châtiment / Crime and Punishment
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, 16 March – 27 June 2010

Théodore Géricault, "Etude de pieds et de mains," 1818-1819 (Montpellier, Musée Fabre)

The exhibition Crime and Punishment looks at a period of some two hundred years: from 1791, when Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau called for the abolition of the death penalty, to 30 September 1981, the date the bill was passed to abolish it in France. Throughout these years, literature created many criminal characters. The title of the exhibition is itself taken from a work by Dostoyevsky. In the press, particularly the illustrated daily newspapers, the powerful fantasy of violent crime was greatly increased through novels.

At the same time, the criminal theme came into the visual arts. In the work of the greatest painters, Goya, Géricault, Picasso and Magritte, images of crime or capital punishment resulted in the most striking works. The cinema too was not slow to assimilate the equivocal charms of extreme violence, transformed by its representation into something pleasurable, perhaps even into sensual pleasure.

It was at the end of the 19th century that a new theory appeared purporting to establish a scientific approach to the criminal mind. This tried to demonstrate that the character traits claimed to be found in all criminals, could also be found in their physiological features. Theories like these had a great influence on painting, sculpture and photography. Finally, the violence of the crime was answered by the violence of the punishment: how can we forget the ever-present themes of the gibbet, the garrotte, the guillotine and the electric chair? Beyond crime, there is still the perpetual problem of Evil, and beyond social circumstances, metaphysical anxiety. Art brings a spectacular answer to these questions. The aesthetic of violence and the violence of the aesthetic – this exhibition aims to bring them together through music, literature and a wide range of images.

Exhibition catalogue by Jean Clair (Editions Gallimard, 2010) ISBN: 978-2070128747, 49€

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

As reported at History Today (17 March 2010),

One of the last guillotines to exist in mainland France went on display yesterday in a new exhibition entitled ‘Crime et châtiment’ at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The model was designed by Léon Alphonse Berger in 1872. The curator of the exhibition is former justice minister, Robert Badinter, who successfully abolished the death penalty in the first year of Mitterrand’s presidency in 1981. The last person to be guillotined in France was Hamida Djandoubi at Baumettes prison in Marseille in 1977. The guillotine is displayed alongside over 450 works of art, including sculptures by Rodin and paintings by Degas and Munch, in this exhibition which explores attitudes to crime, rehabilitation and punishment from the French revolution onwards.

Call for Papers: Rethinking Allegory

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on March 24, 2010

From the INHA site:

Pouvoirs visionnaires de l’allégorie: arts, théâtre et littérature
Journée d’études organisée par l’Université de Haute-Alsace et les Musées de Belfort, 30 September 2010

Proposals due by 15 May 2010

L’allégorie est fondamentalement inactuelle.
-Walter Benjamin

Allégorie réelle déterminant une phase de 7 années de ma vie artistique. Le sous-titre du célèbre tableau de Gustave Courbet L’atelier du peintre n’a pas fini de nous interroger en ce qu’il fixe étrangement le rapport de l’iconologie à la parole, de l’image à la rhétorique et à la répartition des rôles. Une telle assertion est à l’aune de cette journée d’études qui entend réunir des chercheurs pour éprouver les enjeux de ce titre en forme d’énigme.

L’allégorie change selon ses modes de représentation, elle est une « métafigure » pour reprendre l’expression de Pascal Maillard. L’allégorie n’est pas seulement un ornement rhétorique mais une forme d’imagination expressive qui contient et véhicule une vision du monde fondée sur un principe d’analogie (comme dans la gravure de Dürer, Melancholia) et qui conditionne une modalité particulière des rapports humains. Forme d’investigation et d’interprétation dont les modalités évoluent selon les périodes, les arts et les supports, l’allégorie est « un compromis fragile ». Rationnelle autant que conflictuelle, « elle rassemble pour mieux séparer. « Alchimie d’un invisible, poursuit Françoise Divorne dans Le sens voilé, elle se masque sur le mode d’un conflit puisqu’elle implique deux significations rivales voire contradictoires ». L’allégorie fait un double usage du détournement et des voiles – objets de théâtre et attributs de l’histoire de l’art propices aux changements et aux ruses de l’identité comme des personnes. Paradoxe donc de l’allégorie dont les artifices ne se dissimulent pas : le contraire du mensonge serait donc moins la vérité que le dévoilement du secret qu’il entend recouvrir ?

À quoi se reconnaît l’allégorie en littérature, au théâtre et en art ? Quelles sont les procédures opératoires que l’allégorie emprunte et les stratégies interprétatives qu’elle nécessite, sont-elles dépendantes d’une période ou d’un mode d’expression ? Un genre littéraire, théâtral et artistique est-il particulièrement apte à produire ses propres systèmes allégoriques ? Comment comprendre l’allégorie aujourd’hui après le structuralisme et dans la pensée post-moderne ? A-t-elle dans son inactualité fondamentale que remarquait Walter Benjamin les moyens de se renouveler ? Que ce soit en peinture, en sculpture, en poésie ou au théâtre, l’allégorie repose sur des principes de mise en scène et de dramaturgie qui donnent lieu à une distribution imaginaire des rôles.

Sans se restreindre ou se limiter à une période précise, on se demandera dans quelle mesure les éléments dramatiques de l’allégorie vont de pair avec un mouvement de pensée dont on essaiera de mettre en évidence la portée et les spécificités dans des périodes volontairement diversifiées.

La journée aura lieu au musée d’Histoire de Belfort à la Citadelle et donnera lieu à une présentation des collections du Musée des Beaux-Arts dont le parcours thématique s’ouvre sur une salle consacrée à l’allégorie.

Merci d’adresser vos propositions à Frédérique Toudoire-Surlapierre (frederique.toudoire@uha.fr) et Nicolas Surlapierre (nsurlapierre@mairie-belfort.fr) avant le 15 mai 2010.

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